The following article was first printed in the June 2011 Orange Blossom, the newsletter for Orange County Romance Writers. Permission granted to reprint or forward with proper credit to author and newsletter.
In addition to writing, working as an editor for magazines and publishers, Louisa Bacio teaches college classes in writing and popular culture. Bacio lives in Southern California with her adoring husband, two wonderful and challenging daughters and a houseful of pets.
Q: You are a “digital first” author and are helping to usher in a new era in books. It’s an exciting time. Can you elaborate on your own experiences with reading ebooks? When did you start, what device(s) do you use? What do you see are the advantages to ebooks over traditional books? Etc.
A: I come from a traditional print background, working for newspapers and magazines. My degree is in journalism, and I continue to value holding a magazine and looking at the latest styles on the beach. All that said, ereaders and books are extremely convenient and portable. I’ve read ebooks via .pdfs on the computer, and also own a Kindle and an iPad. When I travel, it’s fantastic to bring one reader, and when you finish a book, you can simply purchase and download another. No more lugging around five books for a weeklong trip. For the most part, the ebooks also are less expensive. There have been a few occasions, though, where authors such as Stephen King come out with a new book available in hardback, and then it’s not released as an ebook for a few months later (ugh!). And, the most recent one, I could purchase for $9.99 as an ebook, or something like $10.01 as a hardback delivered via Amazon on the day of release. I chose the hardback. Also, I have the Kindle app on my iPhone. If I’m out at a doctor’s appointment and have a long wait – then I can bring up my book and it’ll sync to the latest place I was reading at home.
Are there negatives? For some reason, paragraph or scene breaks can be off in an ebook format, so I sometimes need to shift more mentally. Also, I don’t trust myself reading the ebook in a precarious position, such as in the bathtub or the spa. Finally, those pesky airlines make you turn off your electronic devices on take-off and landing, so I usually bring a magazine or paperback then.
Q: Is the publication process much different in e-publishing than it is with traditional publishing? Is there an advantage to the author/reader in epub over traditional pub?
A: From what I know, the books come out much quicker via electronic publishing. I know people with book contracts, and the release is scheduled for a year to 18 months out. Hello! I know that when I turn in a book, depending upon the editing process, it’ll be out in a month to six weeks. A negative to that, though, is that you don’t get all that lead time, and submit the cover and galley for reviews to coincide with the release. I looked once and RT Magazine wanted books something like six months before release – probably won’t happen with my electronic publisher.
Q: You have a fascinating set-up for your new book. You associate three types of characters in an intimate relationship that are usually at odds with one another. How did you generate that idea and what were your challenges in trying to make it work?
A: My publisher requested an erotic paranormal, and I immediately thought: “What’s the ultimate fantasy” Well, you get both – the vampire and the werewolf. You don’t have to decide and choose between one or the other. Now that might not be everyone’s fantasy but it played into my ‘writing’ fantasy quite well. Further, my agent asked how I would make the vampire and werewolf stand each other – and why not?
Challenge set, and the imagination took over.
Q: What tools do you use when plotting out your novel? Can you give us an outline of your process?
A: For those who are plotter, you’re going to be disappointed. I’m a pantster. I’ve got a good idea of where I want the story to go, and a number of the scenes that will be included, but I don’t outline or plot the book. And, I don’t write in consecutive order. Instead, the writing flows depending upon mood. Feeling bad one day? All right, then I’ll tackle the more emotional, gritty scenes. Feeling all lovey-dovey? Then it’s time to hit the romantic scenes. Rather than constraining myself with an A to B to C structure line, I write what feels natural.
Sound good? Afterward, I print the entire novel and use a three-ring binder to move chapters around, fill in spaces, etc. The front and back of the manuscript get written on. Amazing how it all comes together at the end.
Q: How about promotion? How does an epublisher do promotion differently from a traditional publisher?
A: Differences don’t separate between an epublisher and a traditional publisher, but also between publishing houses themselves. Ravenous Romance sends books out to reviewers and also arranges some ads. I’m not privy to knowing all of their marketing plans, but I have come across some ads for The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome in All-Romance Ebooks, and I didn’t purchase them!
I am also an editor for the new boutique cross-platform publisher Entangled Publishing. They have a dedicated marketing staff and recently hired a professional in branding to work with the authors and editors in establishing their niches in the marketplace. Since I’m more behind-the-scenes with the business end, I can see the steps being taken.
Finally, the support network among authors within the industry is tremendous. My agent Saritza Hernandez, with the L. Perkins Agency, set up a loop with her authors, and we cross-promote, and the same thing happens with Ravenous authors and those that I’ve met on sites such as Savvy Authors, and of course locally such as our OCC/RWA chapter.
Q: What advice would you like to give to an aspiring author?
A: Keep pushing yourself, and don’t give up. Now that I’ve published two books, and have contracts for three more, my husband likes to remind me of those nights where I cried because I would ‘never finish a book, and never be published.’
Also, enjoy those baby steps of progress – celebrate each moment of validation. And finally, rely upon those wacky, author-friends of yours, who do understand what it feels like, and what you’re going through. We can relate like no other.
Q: What’s up next for you? What are you working on?
A: My next book is within the Sex University ‘universe,’ which means it’s a loose sequel to my first novel. One of the main characters is Officer Margaret ‘Marge’ Neil, who was briefly introduced in the first book. As I wrote about Maggie – she’s transforming – in Physical Education, I knew that there was much more to her character. It should be out mid-summer. And then in the fall, I’ll be releasing book 2 in The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf series, and readers will fall in love with Trevor’s sister, Silver, who’ll be coming into her own as a female werewolf. There are not enough kick-ass female werewolves in the world!
Along with The Vampire, The Witch and the Werewolf, Louisa’s debut novel Physical Education is available through Ravenous Romance, and Amazon. Check out the latest happenings via her blog http://louisabacio.blogspot.com
ï»¿ï»¿ Kara Lennox is the bestselling author of more than fifty published novels of romance and romantic suspense. She has been published by Silhouette and Bantam Books as Karen Leabo, and currently writes for the Harlequin American Romance, Silhouette Desire and Signature Select lines as Kara Lennox. Some of her more popular series for the American Romance line are How to Marry a Hardison and Blond Justice.
When lies turn to attempted murder, they must hunt down the truth togetherâ€¦to prove her innocence, protect an honest man and save both their lives.
Q) You have an amazing backlist of books that spans two decades. How do you continue to generate new and fresh ideas?
A) Actually, sometimes I’ll be brainstorming a book, and I’ll say to myself, “This is good. This is really … oh, wait, I already wrote that book.” And certain themes appear over and over in my books. (For instance, my heroines are often struggling with independence vs. commitment–because it’s a struggle I find to be endlessly rich.) But I never seem to run out of ways to spin a story. I like to be inspired by nonfiction stories, I eavesdrop everywhere I go, and everything I read or see has the potential to inspire a story. I keep notebooks full of snippets of dialogue or interesting characters, pictures, ideas for settings, interesting jobs. I don’t organize it, just leave through them sometimes to see what strikes me.
Q) Your work has been primarily geared towards series romance. In your opinion, what advantages does publishing as part of a series have over single title publication?
Series romance offers lots of advantages. It’s a great place for a new author because there is a built-in audience. By writing shorter books, you have the opportunity to publish more titles, which gets and keeps your name out in front of the readers. And although I wouldn’t say royalties are ever “predictable,” the payouts are perhaps a little less erratic and you can make some estimates as to what you’ll earn on a given book. The specific requirements and guidelines for each line give the author a framework to build on, so you don’t have to reinvent the whole wheel each time you write a book. Harlequin does a great job publishing foreign editions (and selling sub rights) so your book lives on in many different editions for years to come. And if you are very prolific, or you have more than one kind of books you like to write, Harlequin can accommodate you.
Q) What is your process for self-editing your manuscript before you submit it?
It varies from book to book. Some books just write cleanly from beginning to end, so I might only do one edit plus one polish. Others are just disastrous from the start and I end up ripping them up, rearranging parts, throwing out whole chapters. I usually make one pass through the rough draft and make notes on what has to be done, then work up a game plan so I can schedule my time and not miss any deadlines. My husband will read the manuscript when I’m done, and I will go through one last time to address his comments.
Q) Are you a planner or a pantser?
I’m definitely a planner. I outline everything ad nauseum. I love structure, I love pulling apart stories to see how they work (or why they don’t work).
Q) What does your writing work day/schedule look like?
I write Monday through Friday, usually in the mornings. I try to get my page count done before lunch and leave the afternoons for other writing-related activities (research, judging contests, online classes, proofreading galleys. It doesn’t always work that way; sometimes it takes me all day to get those pages written. As a deadline approaches I’ll put in more hours, evenings and weekends, but I try to keep a sane work schedule. I’m not one who thrives on deadline pressure.
Q) What advice would you give a new writer who is looking for a career in publication?
Just keep showing up. Selling that fist book involves hitting the right editor with the right material at the right time. So your chances are increased the more you write and the more you send out. Keep trying to get better. Try different things; write in different genres to keep yourself motivated and challenged. Read writing books and take classes. Network and attend conferences. Immerse yourself in it. Just in the past couple of years I’ve had a lot of friends make that first sale after working at it for many years, so don’t give up or think it won’t happen for you. I have a stack of rejections that could choke a horse, collected both before and after I sold my first book. Keep improving your craft and keep sending stuff out.
Brenda Parrish is a member of OCC/RWA and is currently hard at work at her own fiction. She recently finaled in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Contest! You can follow her on Twitter @itsBrenï»¿ï»¿
A Slice of Orange is an affiliate with some of the booksellers listed on this website, including Barnes & Nobel, Books A Million, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. This means A Slice of Orange may earn a small advertising fee from sales made through the links used on this website. There are reminders of these affiliate links on the pages for individual books.
And then there were three . . .
More info →
Will Eve find it’s possible that Christmas wishes aren’t only for little girls?More info →
A chance encounter with a wealthy congressman leads to an unusual proposition…More info →